A BUSINESSMAN who is appearing on a desert island survival show has described how being slowly starved and repeatedly bitten by flies has been a "life-changing experience".

Rizwan Shabir - known as Riz - is one of a group of men and women dropped on a deserted tropical island for the Channel 4 series The Island.

The 26-year-old married father-of-three, of Girlington, Bradford, caused a big stir on social media after he broke down in tears shortly after reaching the beach following a 50 metre swim.

He then struggled to get to the top of a steep bank as the men made their way off the beach.

Riz, who is a black belt in karate and owns a mobile phone shop in Castleford, redeemed himself when he managed to get a fire going.

He told the Telegraph & Argus that living on the island had been emotionally and physically painful.

As he walked up the beach, he realised he was missing his wife and three young children back in Bradford.

It dawned on him that what he was doing was quite risky.

"I think I panicked with the realisation of how dangerous it was. The swimming was frightening and scary. The water was in my eyes and mouth and I could feel the coldness. I hadn't been swimming since I was 16 or 17. I do know how to swim but it's different in a swimming pool."

When a fellow islander asked how he was, he began to cry.

"I wasn't able to control myself. I just let it out. I was feeling really emotional. I'm an emotional kind of guy. My twins boys were only six-weeks-old and my little girl was having her third birthday and we had just said goodbye to our families."

After breaking down he was branded a 'softie' on social media.

"I don't mind them saying I'm a softie. We all cry, we all get emotional. The only difference is that millions were watching it. Mentally, I am soft - it runs in the family."

He redeemed himself in the eyes of many when he managed to get a fire going.

It had taken his group more than 15 hours over two days before they got a flame, he said.

"It was a very good moment for me.

"It's hard to explain how important that moment was. We spent five to six hours on the first day with no luck and ten to 12 hours on the second day. I was on it for 20 minutes and got it done. I'm glad I did, otherwise I would just be known for crying and embarrassing myself."

Riz said he found it very tough to cope without food while being constantly bitten by bugs.

"You can feel yourself getting bitten and it is tough. I got stung by a scorpion and should have quit."

Before appearing on the show, he had big plans of how he would be making bows, arrows and fishing baskets.

"When I was at home I was thinking I would be like Tarzan, swinging from tree to tree, diving and making things.

"But when you are hungry, tired, stressed and bitten up, you don't have any energy. The first five days I had no food; you don't feel like you can do anything.

"You expect it to be hard, but you can't imagine."

Despite the suffering, he described it as a "life-changing" experienced because it taught him to appreciate "the smallest things in life" such as a glass of tap water.

"I appreciate my family and friends a lot more. I have cut down on material things. Before, I was into cars, phones, watches. These things don't bother me now."

The near-starvation diet led him to question what he was eating back in Bradford.

"I have totally changed the way I eat and I go to the gym a lot now. As soon as they put me onto the island, I struggled. I needed cardio training.

"Before I was eating take-outs - the cholesterol and greasy food were killing me. Now I have lost weight and I eat more healthily."

Riz said he found the experience "the best thing and the worst thing" he had ever done.

"If anyone wants to try it, they should sign up and put their name down. I did the same after seeing the previous series but it is 100 per cent harder than it looks. It is something that can't be explained."

* See how Riz gets on in the third episode of The Island on Channel 4 today at 9pm.